Davidson MBB Midseason Recap

The Davidson men’s basketball team is exactly halfway through their Atlantic 10 conference schedule. Let’s look at how they’ve faired against conference opponents so far.

@ Fordham 12/28

The ‘Cats began their A-10 campaign at Fordham, who at the time was 12-1 and riding an 11-game win streak, both best in the A-10. That didn’t matter to the ‘Cats, who stormed out to a 15-5 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game and continued to hold to and extend that lead for the majority of the game. Fordham tried to make a comeback with 7 minutes left but it was the free throw shooting of Foster Loyer (2-2) and Desmond Watson (4-6) who went a combined 6-7 from the line in the final 7 minutes and Davidson’s stout defense who held the Rams to just 8 points in the final 6 minutes of the game that won it for the Wildcats. The final score was 57-43 Davidson.

Player of the game: Desmond Watson, who led the team with 15 points and 11 rebounds in a double-double effort off the bench.

Stats of Note: The Wildcats stifled the Rams on defense, giving the Rams their worst 3-point percentage of the season at 9.7% and just 25.4% shooting (16-63 FG) on the night. Davidson outrebounded Fordham by 19, 50 to 31 respectively. The ‘Cats made 18 free throws compared to 8 by the Rams. The ‘Cats had 3 players in double figures, Watson with 15, Reed Bailey with 15, and Sam Mennenga with 13. Both Watson and Mennenga had 11 rebounds and a double-double.

vs. Dayton 12/31

After beating Fordham, the Wildcats took on the favorites to win the A-10, the Dayton Flyers. Dayton took the lead from the start, but the Wildcats have a knack for making it interesting and closed a 14-point lead to tie the game with 10:42 left in the second. It was from there that the Flyers flexed their muscles and regained the lead; they didn’t look back and the Wildcats fell 69-55 against the Flyers at home.

Player of the game: Desmond Watson. Watson had 11 points and 5 rebounds for the ‘Cats coming off the bench.

Stats of Note: The Wildcats only had 3 turnovers and forced 7 turnovers. Grant Huffman had a 4-7 shooting day that yielded 9 points. Sam Mennenga was 5-9 shooting with 11 points. Reed Bailey led the team in rebounds with 7.

vs. Loyola Chicago 1/4

Davidson welcomed the newest member of the A-10 at home in their third A-10 conference game in the best way possible; an 80-57 win against the Ramblers. The Wildcats shot a season high 29-51 (56.9%) from the field and 19-22 (86.7%) from the charity stripe. The Wildcats had 4 players in double figures with Sam Mennenga leading the team with 22 points. It was an offensive showing for the ‘Cats, particularly when it was inside the three-point arc, shooting 65%. Final score: 80-57 Davidson.

Player of the Game: Foster Loyer. Loyer put in 21 points on 8-13 shooting. He also added 6 rebounds and 4 assists to the stat sheet.

Stats of Note: Davidson shot a season-best 56.9% from the field, shooting 29 of 51. The Wildcats outrebounded Loyola Chicago 28-25 and had more assists (12-9) than the Ramblers. The ‘Cats forced 21 turnovers and committed 3 less fouls in the game. The big men feasted on the Ramblers, as Sam Mennenga had 22 points (8-11 FG) and David Skogman had 16 (5-7 FG) and combined for 10 rebounds. Davidson held Loyola to just 27.5% shooting from three. All 14 men on Davidson’s active roster played in this one for the ‘Cats.

@ VCU 1/7

Of the first 4 conference games for the Wildcats, Davidson would have to play 2 of the top 4 favorites to win the A-10. On the road against VCU, Davidson took off on a 10-0 run to start the game. Unfortunately, that was the biggest lead they had, and the Rams got hot from three, shooting 62.5% for the game. Davidson did have a season-high 9 steals and Reed Bailey had 6 offensive rebounds, but the Wildcats just caught the wrong team on a good shooting day. Final score: 89-72 VCU.

Player of the Game: Sam Mennenga. Mennenga led the team with 20 points in just 25 minutes of playing time and had 3 rebounds.

Stats of Note: Davidson shot a season second best 54.7% from the field converting 29 of 53 field goals. The ‘Cats got to the line 15 times and made 12 of them. Achile Spadone made his third appearance for the ‘Cats in conference play and and shot 1-1 from the field in 3 minutes of playing time. The Wildcats had 3 scorers above 15 points: Mennenga with 20, Watson with 19, and Huffman with 16. Reed Bailey had 9 rebounds to lead the game.

vs. Richmond 1/11

It was a rematch from the A-10 Championship last year, and the Wildcats sought revenge for their upset loss in March of 2022. The Wildcats began the game on a 6-0 run, but Richmond retook the lead quickly and held on the rest of the way. The Spiders extended their lead out to 15 points, and while the comeback ‘Cats came to within 2 points with 25 seconds left, it was to little to late for the Wildcats as Tyler Burton made 2 free throws with 12 seconds left to extend the lead to 2 possessions. Final score: 61-57 Richmond.

Player of the Game: Desmond Watson. Watson had a team high 13 points and was second in rebounding with 9 rebounds only to Sam Mennenga’s career high rebound performance of 16 for the Wildcats.

Stats of Note: Davidson shot 71.4% from the line on 10-14 shooting. The Wildcats forced 13 turnovers, while only committing 9. Davidson held the Spiders to just 33.3% shooting and held A-10 Player of the Year candidate Tyler Burton to 4-11 shooting, including 0-6 from downtown. Foster Loyer had 4 assists for the Wildcats.

@ George Mason 1/14

Now 2-3 in conference play, the Wildcats were searching for a win against the Patriots to get back to .500 in conference play. The ‘Cats once again started off fast, with a 14-2 run in the first 5 and a half minutes. The ‘Cats would hold onto a lead at half, but with 11:13 left in the game, the Patriots took their first lead and showed the Wildcats they weren’t going away. It was back and forth until the 5:44 left in the game where Davidson would not score until the 2:36 left in the game allowing the Patriots to build a 6-point lead. Once again, though, the comeback ‘Cats tied it and took the lead with 25 seconds left thanks to Foster Loyer’s two free throws, but it was the Josh Oduro of the Patriots who took a foul from David Skogman and sank two free throws to regain the lead. Davidson wouldn’t score despite a last second three-ball from Loyer, and Josh Oduro made one more free throw at the end to give the Patriots a 67-65 win.

Player of the Game: Grant Huffman. Huffman led the team in points, rebounds, and assists, 16, 7, 6, respectively.

Stats of Note: Davidson had 4 players score in double figures: Foster Loyer (16), Grant Huffman (16), Desmond Watson (13), and Sam Mennenga (13). The Wildcats were 10-11 from the line and were only one short of the Patriots in made free throws even though the Patriots shot 6 more than the ‘Cats. Davidson had 12 assists on the game. David Skogman played a season high 33 minutes in regulation.

@ Dayton 1/17

The Wildcats sought revenge against the Flyers in a sell out crowd in Dayton, Ohio. The Wildcats took on the Flyers head on in the first half, striking back every time Dayton seemed to threaten their lead. The ‘Cats took a 32-29 lead at half, but that lead vanished with a 15-2 run by the Flyers. As we have seen throughout this season, the Wildcats ALWAYS make it interesting, and with 4:51 left, David Skogman sank two free throws to make it a 4-point game at 56-52. However, Dayton responded with a three (to make it 59-52) and held onto their lead as time expired. The Wildcats fell 68-61.

Player of the Game: Sam Mennenga. There are many positives this year for the Wildcats and one is the emergence of Sam Mennenga on the glass. He had a team-high 13 rebounds, 8 of them offensive rebounds. He put in 15 points off 7-14 shooting.

Stats of Note: Davidson outrebounded Dayton by 5 with a 34-29 rebounding edge. They had one less turnover than the Flyers. Another positive for the ‘Cats is the emergence of scoring from Desmond Watson. Desmond Watson had a team high 19 points off 8-14 shooting. Connor Kochera was 3-5 from the field pouring in 7 points in just 13 minutes. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, they just met up with a Flyers team that shot 54% from the field.

@ La Salle 1/24

With the ‘Cats now sitting at 2-5 in the conference, a win was in need for the ‘Cats. Their opponent, the Explorers, were also looking for a win coming in with a 3-game losing streak. It was a close first half with La Salle having their biggest lead by 8, but it was Sam Mennenga who kept the Wildcats in the game with 20 first half points. Foster Loyer drilling a three assisted by Grant Huffman with 4 seconds remaining in the first half cut the Explorers lead to just one going into the half; the halftime score was 33-32. Davidson retook the lead with 13:51 left in the second half. La Salle was within 4 in the final minute, but it was the free throw shooting from Grant Huffman (2-2), Desmond Watson (2-2), and Sam (1-1) Mennenga in the final 33 seconds of the game that closed the door against the Explorer’s for a Davidson win, 64-57.

Player of the Game: Sam Mennenga. No shocker on this one; Mennenga had a career high 27 points on 10-16 shooting, 3-4 from deep. He also had 11 rebounds to complete his double-double night.

Stats of Note: The ‘Cats shot 41.8% (23-55) compared to Explorers 33.9% (19-56). Davidson shot 40.9% (9-22) from deep and were 75% (9-12) from the line. They had 7 more assists than La Salle and 5 blocks in the game. Foster Loyer poured in 12 points all from three and David Skogman had 11 off the bench going 5-6 from the field.

vs. Saint Louis 1/27

The Billikens were searching for their first win in Belk arena in front of a packed crowd. With the game being televised on ESPN 2, it was off to a fast start with 22 combined points from both teams in the first 4 minutes. The Billikens could not miss for the first 7 minutes of the game, but Davidson was holding strong, shooting 50% from 3-point land. Grant Huffman had a breakaway dunk, but he was called for a technical foul for pulling up on the rim, a call the team and the fans were not happy about. The Billikens cooled off a little and the game settled into a back and forth with a 38-34 Wildcat lead at half. For the first 10 minutes of the second half, it was a tight one, but Saint Louis ever so slowly built a 6-point lead. The Wildcats, as we know, made it interesting, as they cut the lead to three and held it there from the 3:35 mark (67-70) in the second all the way until the 1:13 mark, where they cut it to 2 (70-68) after a Sam Mennenga free throw. However, a wild sequence that turned into a two-point layup for the Billikens (72-68) cemented their lead and with free throws by Yuri Collins at the end, the Wildcats fell 74-70.

Player of the Game: Sam Mennenga. Mennenga continues to help the Wildcats stay in games. He led the team in points, 16, and was second in rebounding, 7. He drew 8 fouls and only committed one.

Stats of Note: David Skogman had 10 rebounds, 5 offensive and 5 defensive. Grant Huffman was 6-14 from the field and 1 of two from the charity stripe. The Wildcats were able to have a lead in the first half only shooting 41% (12-29) compared to Billikens 54% (13-24) from the field. They outscored Saint Louis in the paint 34-32 and had 14 second-chance points.

Look Ahead

The Wildcats, now 10-11 and sitting 13th in the A-10 at 3-6, are not in the best spot. However, if you look at their schedule, they’ve played the top 4 teams in the A-10 in 5 of their 9 games. They’re only sitting 1 game behind 7th and 2 behind 5th. The ‘Cats welcome VCU to Belk on Tuesday Jan 31st at 7 PM in what is a blackout night for Belk Arena. As discussed above, the Wildcats fell to VCU, who shot lights out from deep, earlier this season, so it should be a closer matchup at home. They will then have a travel to UMass on February 4. These are pivotal games for the Wildcats as both teams are ahead of Davidson in the A-10. If Davidson converts on more shots, they’ll be able to gain some ground. It’s all learning lessons from here until March.

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